Archive for the ‘cryptozoology’ category

“First Shot a Winner, Lads” on “The Terror”

April 17, 2018

Well, the Royal Navy would appear to have fully engaged the Tuunbaq on Season 1, Episode 5 of The Terror, with blood drawn on both sides but the British at least putting on a good show for Queen and country.- –Well played, Lads!  We are given a bit more of a glimpse of the creature, which is set on fire, hit with a cannon shot, and survives just to run off into the snow mist!  “He’ll be back,” we can almost imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger saying…

I like to watch this show in a darkened room to heighten the atmospheric effects, with the pursuit and battle sequence of the episode taking place at night in a blinding snowstorm in the bitter cold.  The filming techniques almost make you feel like you are there as part of the beleaguered crew, about to receive a severe thrashing at the paws and claws of something incomprehensible that moves on its own terms, and may not even be destructible by mortal weapons.  A vicious and cunning predator is not the only problem the crew faces, having flesh cut off due to frostbite, an alcoholic captain, and the matter of spoiling and lead tainted food that is slowly poisoning them.  The enigmatic Inuit woman named Lady Silence breaks her reticence to convey that she doesn’t control the creature, and is really as afraid of it as the English are.  “It’s bound to no one,” she says…

Dread is a difficult emotion to convey in horror, and many horror tales fail to convey it at all.  It is a refined, rarified sense of fear.  Dread is subtle and builds slowly out of bits and pieces, taking its own good time.  The Terror is developing a sense of dread as effectively as about anything seen in recent years on television, and I look forward to the upcoming matches of the Royal Navy versus the supernatural Tuunbaq…

“Punished, As A Boy” on “The Terror”

April 10, 2018

To dispense with what the episode title refers to, it appears that when you’re “punished as a boy” on a 19th century British ship, you’re flogged on your bottom rather than on your back, complete with all of your shipmates watching for both pain and humiliation.  We do get to see this, unfortunately, complete with blood spattering, agonized grunts from the punished, and the man’s behind resembling raw hamburger following his ordeal.- – Hey, horror isn’t pretty!  

This is grim stuff, but things are getting pretty grim indeed, with the Tuunbaq creature shredding members of the expedition brutally and pretty much at will, leaving some as only bloody smears on the ice, removing part of another’s skull to expose his brain (“It looks like pudding!,” remarks the ship’s surgeon), and tearing two others in half to crudely reassemble their bodies together.  The Tuunbaq has also demonstrated that it can move onto the English ships pretty much at will, and escape unscathed.  We’re kind of at the stage now that we were in The Thing where the men realize that the alien is inside the camp, and they’re relatively ineffective at countering it.  Composure and discipline are beginning to fall apart, just as some of the men’s gums are starting to turn black from lead poisoning brought by their spoiling and badly- packaged tinned food.

I’m not going to go on about the many complexities and layers of character and plot going on in the story, which can be appreciated on a variety of levels; we limit ourselves to just a few paragraphs here.  But central to the story and ever growing in importance is the enigmatic and appropriately-named Lady Silence, the Inuit woman whose father was accidently shot by the English in an earlier episode.  She was seen engaging in some kind of interaction with the Tuunbaq, perhaps a ritual.  Is she controlling the creature, or what is the nature of her relationship with it?  Hmmm…we’ll just have to wait and see!

 


“The Ladder” Episode of “The Terror”

April 3, 2018


Well, I certainly didn’t see that coming!  Season 1, Episode 3 of The Terror was almost a snooze fest until three quarters of the way through the hour when the Royal Navy’s tent station to catch the creature attacking them is set upon from above by the crafty Tuunbaq, who snatches one of the men and scatters them all, including Captain Franklin (pictured), who was basically paying the men a morale visit, and enticed to stay so as to share in the glory of the kill…

bad career decision!  Curse the creature for not playing by the rules, and walking up to the lures to be shot!  Defenseless, isolated, and disoriented, Captain Franklin staggers about the polar wastes before being seized by the creature, separated from his leg, and then jammed through a hole in the ice.  It was not the kind of retirement plan he had in mind from the Royal Navy.  Only a leg left to bury, too…

Good horror doesn’t play by the rules, either.  It builds up a sense of tension and dread, and then springs something on you that you weren’t quite expecting, often while you were anticipating quite another outcome. While ironically the men set out to slay the monster had been told to show it no mercy, it was they who were shown none. Horror’s vehicle here is to overwhelm and then subsume prideful men.

Alas, Captain Franklin, we barely knew you, but you seemed to be a likable if vain man.  And in the Of Ice and Men scenario, the ice seems to be winning…



The Terror – – Go for Broke; Gore

March 26, 2018

 

Watching The Walking Dead Sunday night,  I was unexpectedly treated to an unannounced and unadvertised preview of The Terror.  Quite a change of scenario, but I’ll take two hours of horror over one any night!

“An adventure for Queen and Country!”

Probably, not everyone will be able to get into The Terror because of its period drama aspects.  The pilot episode (Go for Broke) was mostly set-up and mood-setter, and some will be turned off by the rather trudging pace initially prevalent.  I love this kind of thing, however, and enjoy its attention to detail and atmosphere.  It’s all there; the dim  lighting, the creaking of the great wooden ship, and the magnificent desolation of the arctic.  Life was far more elemental in the mid-nineteenth century in a way that we early 21st century folks can only dimly imagine.

Executive producer Ridley Scott brings a touch of Alien space horror to this tale, however.  All of the elements are there; combine a bunch of superstitious sailors in close quarters in unknown and dangerous situations, and you’re bound to get a body count.  Even the first episode, Go for Broke, brought us death, disease, delusion, and even a “space walk” in the form of deep sea diving.  

The creepiness factor slowly started to ramp up in the second episode, Gore.  Locked in ice, the two ships send out expedition teams to seek the best passage through the ice, one of which meets with severe mishap when the tense group spooked by a night storm shoots an Inuit man in the company of his daughter.  A member of this team shortly later is seized and carried off by a creature that they think is a bear, but most likely is a Tuunbaq.  Taken back to the ship, the Inuit male succumbs to his injuries, his daughter advising the commanding officers (who profess that they want to help despite having shot her father) that they must leave or will vanish…

The sci fi/horror themes of malfunction, isolation, and paranoia that factored into such classics as The Thing are beginning to kick in here, and I’m on board for this arctic nautical nightmare!

 

“The Terror” is Coming!

March 19, 2018

I love creepy stuff, and there’s so little of it that’s done really well!  For this reason, I’m really looking forward to The Terror, an upcoming horror series on the AMC network. Based on a novel by Dan Simmons and the ill-fated real life Franklin Expedition, The Terror looks like wonderful stuff indeed.  

Incorporating elements of the movies The Thing with Alien and the rich period atmospherics and fine acting of the Penny Dreadful tv series, The Terror has it all.  It kind of combines a real-life historical event, the Franklin Expedition, with a horror/fantasy overlay. This kind of thing has been done in a lot of sci fi/alternative history fiction, and has lately been seen in films like Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter.

Now the ill-fated Franklin Expedition was real stuff which was kicked off in 1845 when the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror left England in search of a segment of the Northwest Passage, a kind of 19th century wormhole which it was felt would convey trade to the Orient.  The vessels, advanced for their day, became hopelessly ice-locked in the Canadian Arctic, forcing their crews to abandon ship and walk in search of a settlement.  They faced slow and miserable deaths from exposure, starvation, and lead poisoning caused by their badly-canned food.  All 129 souls on board the ships died from their ordeal.

In the television horror drama, the Royal Navy expedition instead of finding the Northwest Passage discovers a cunning, monstrous gothic-style predator who stalks the crew in a game of survival which could impact the region and its indigenous people forever.  For a tale of frozen wastes, sailing ships, and Arctic monsters I’m booking passage on The Terror for sure!


Revolutionary Soldier and Creature in the Woods…

December 24, 2017


How would you like to live right by a cemetery?  The neighborhood has been a bit dead lately, you say?!  Well, on the Season 1/Episode 7 installment of Terror in the Woods,  we are first told the ghostly story of Annie in Ohio, who when visited by her two sisters (Amy and Mary-Beth) at her Ohio house decided that it would be spooky fun to go on an after-dark graveyard walk in the adjoining cemetery.  This they did, complete with loud joking conversation and picture-taking. It was all fun and games until the night seemed to darken, and a presence was felt.  The sisters retreated to Annie’s house, where one felt a hand touch her when retrieving something from the car.  Returning to the cemetery the next day in broad daylight, they found graves of people sharing their names.  Looking later at the pics they had taken the previous night, a blurry but full-body image of a revolutionary war soldier was seen.  It seems that the cemetery was the final resting place of folks born in the area in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s.  Annie swore that she later momentarily saw a revolutionary war soldier in the cemetery from her window, and she would never again return to the graveyard.  

The second segment, Creature in the Woods, involved a couple in Nebraska (David and Laura) and their two children who went on a deep woods retreat to a cabin constructed by one of the lady’s relatives.  The woman had been going to the woods in general and that cabin in particular since childhood, and was not a nervous Nellie.  While fetching water, the family heard a deep grunting in the forest together with stamping on the ground which sounded aggressive.  They later heard resonant growls and thumps while preparing lunch.  Banging on wash tubs and an oil drum near the entrance to the camp was also heard, at which point the family decided to pack it in and fled in their car, afraid.  While no sightings were made, the inference was clearly made that they had encountered one or more Bigfoot-type creatures…

“Haunted Cabin” on”Terror in the Woods

December 11, 2017

 

The Haunted Cabin episode of “Terror in the Woods” (S1/Ep8) was basically a ghost story, but with a side order of cryptid thrown in.  The story was pleasantly scary and creepy, and I like that!

In deepest Kentucky in the Red River Gorge, a rustic cabin sat in the woods on an abandoned logging road that married couple Bill and Charisse chose as kind of a retirement retreat.  Bill held the fort while Charisse worked hard for the money at a city job about two hours away.  Now Bill was a college grad, not some yahoo, and he put up a security camera outside the cabin.  One night around two to three a.m., said camera picked up a sporadic green mist that seemed to morph in and out.  We, the viewers, were shown the actual footage, and it did look like a floaty mist to me! Alerted by the security camera, Bill went outside and thought that he saw a ghost…

…other creepy things then transpired.  Bill’s TV and Playstation came on twice by themselves!  Now Bill was suitably creeped out by this. I mean, would you want ghosts messin’ with your PlayStation?! They’d stay on it for hours, and leave slime all over the console and controllers, for cripes sake! Bill then did what any sensible person would do, and spent the night in his car.

A week later, Bill’s trusty security camera showed a ball of white light that seemed to come out of the ground and which floated along the area; ghost alert! Viewers were also shown this footage. Bill trucked into town, speaking to and showing locals the footage; not surprisingly, they thought it ghostly.

Now comes the Bigfoot alert; walking outside his cabin in the woods, Bill hit a tree with a branch, and thought that it was answered with other knocks. Bill experienced fear and panic, since ghosts and Bigfoot make for a full paranormal schedule. A friend later visited him, and they found strange footprints with four digits and hooked claws; pictures were taken of this, which viewers of the episode were again shown.

His wife later returned to join Bill, and things went smoothly for a time until they heard howling and barking of a guttural, hellhound nature. They tried to record the commotion, but the sound stopped. Later when watching a ghost show on television, the two decided it would be a kick to casually try and summon a spirit themselves. Be careful what you ask for, because a loud knocking then came to their door, although nothing was there when the door was answered!

So our protagonist again went to the nearest town, showing the locals and woodsmen his latest videos and pics of the strange footprint.  Not surprisingly, they couldn’t explain them but agreed that they were freaky.  It was learned, however, that the cabin Bill and Charisse had bought was built for an ailing daughter who died in the cabin.  The cabin has since continued to be plagued by paranormal activity…spooky!